Widespread advice to overcome writer’s block is to read. Read a lot. But no one seems to talk about the type of words which will turn out helpful— and because it is such a hard thing to decipher, I invite you to delve into this with me. My findings revolve around words, unfixed on their ultimate shape:
The Book that Inspired You Once Upon a Time: For me, it was Harry Potter. Being an immigrant is hard enough without having to deal with adolescence as a “bonus”. Many of us encounter a moment in our lives which forces us to escape to a better, safer, magical place—Hogwarts was it for me. Read something that makes you believe. So radically, so beautifully, that it will drag you right back to a creative force.
The Book that Rattled Your Soul: Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Wao is right, our wow! in Spanish. A fearless record of the emotional hardship you have endured, with a weaving thread of hope. Find, again, that connection of words and reality, your reality, spoken by another but felt by so many of us. After all, what’s the point of writing if it isn’t to bond our readers?
Why Stick to Just the Written Word? How about that film that made you cry and want to pick yourself up and do more, do better, to try once more: The Pursuit of Happiness, Habana Blues, and (for some odd reason) Biutiful did it for me. Not just the inspirational, but films that exhibit the raw honesty of the human heart. A stellar weaving of images, silences, and words, because, isn’t that just what our stories often aim to do?
Talk to Your Craft Mentor: Voicing what you want but cannot do can serve as that so-very-needed, clearing-your-throat step. My person is Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, a beautiful and passionate Latina writer, who also happens to care. Someone motherly that is not afraid to give you some real tough love. Knock on the door to facilitate advice, or the unlikely dreaded scold.
Tune in: Music was probably the first thing you moved yourself to. I did–to drums in my mother’s womb. It’s innate even. If not sounds, vibrations. There is something visceral about it. No doubt it shapes us, moves us, motivates us. Let it flow through your veins; it promises not to disappoint. My choices go akin my mood. Bebe with her “Nostaré” and “Me fui” for those moments of pain, of betterment, of realization. But the most effective; that which you happen to come across, not exactly in your iPod mix, obscure even, but ground shaking. Yes, that one, the one that makes you, forces you, to write.
Go ahead. Have at it!
María Elvira Vera Tatá has finally embraced that she dwells in the Spanglish Realm and is, for better or worse, unable to find her way back to either standard Spanish or English.